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Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied

After 20 years in Observatory, CityRock climbing gym has moved to a custom-designed, huge new space in Paarden Eiland with a retail store attached. Owner Robert Breyer tells us all about it.

How did your business start?

We started at a small 1,000m2 facility in Observatory and I was one of five original founders. I was living in San Francisco at the time and saw there were lots of climbing gyms already and we had this idea of bringing the indoor climbing gym concept to Cape Town.

Why did you choose this area to set up shop?

You need a large industrial warehouse for a good climbing gym. Height and size are really important. So that’s what we’ve got in Paarden Eiland, we’re in a nice industrial area. In Joburg, we purchased an action cricket building also quite large. Typically, we go for industrial spaces where we can find 3,000m2 to 4,000m2 facilities at a reasonable rental.

How did you find your premises?

I personally spent a lot of time looking, driving, prowling the internet, talking to brokers. Joburg was complete luck, the place wasn’t even for sale, I drove by and looked at it. In Cape Town, it was through a broker. The story of life – some of it is through planning and diligence, and some of it through luck.

Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?

We need a lot of space, at least 3,000m2, which is the size of a supermarket. Our Cape Town facility is even larger at 3,800m2 and we need height. We raised the roof by about 6,5m because even the 11/12m of the existing building wasn’t good enough for a world-class climbing gym, so we’re now at a roof height of 16,5m. We also have plenty of parking.

Who are your neighbours?

Warehouses, logistics and storage facilities.

What are the rental/sales prices like in this area?

Again, industrial rates are part and parcel of our equation. Industrial rentals vary depending on the area, size of the building etc, and range from R40/m2 to R80/m2.

How many people visit your business each day?

During peak hours (evenings) and rainy weekend days, we can have about 200 to 300 people in the facility at one time. When we have a competition or an open day, we can have up to 1,000 people over the course of a day.

Do you have any expansion plans?

Not at this point, but never say never. It took me a year and a half to build Randburg and we only opened the Cape Town gym six months ago after a back-breaking year’s work. So, right now, I’m a bit in recovery mode doing tweaking and snags.

Do you operate online as well?

My wife operates – our online presence, which began as a catalogue before online shopping existed. Now, she does the entire retail offering on and offline.

What’s your most popular item?

Probably our adult membership. We are primarily a gym, so people come to climb, workout and do yoga for R550 a month. In the shop, the number one item is climbing shoes and then harnesses.

021 447 1326

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